- For ages 8 and up
- For 2 players
- Approximately 60 minutes to complete
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Strategy & Tactics
- Visuospatial Skills
- Hand/Resource Management
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Navigate the valleys and peaks in the Andes with your intrepid Llama to deliver the goods
- Gamer Geek mixed!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
An American writer who has published over 27 novels and even penned a story of Wonder Woman comics, Jodi Picoult, said, “Men—you can’t live with them, and you can’t legally shoot them. So I tossed out my husband eight years ago and got a llama instead. Best decision I ever made.” While I won’t get into the specifics about the pros and cons of either sex, I will confidently say that Llamas are pretty badass. They are intelligent, hard workers and can spit at a target over 10 feet away. How can you not respect that? In this game, you’ll be packing your Llama and trekking the Andes. Only with their help will you be able to deliver the goods.
P’achakuna, designed by Stefan Kraft, Moreno Vogel, and published by Treecer, is comprised of six frame pieces, 54 Terrain tiles, one White Village tile, 57 Resource pieces, six Llama meeples, 42 Demand flags, three wooden Rock pieces, one cloth bag, and one assembly plan. The cardboard pieces are nice and thick, as well as colorful. Likewise, the wooden pieces are solid and durable. The only flimsy component is the Assembly plan which has the same thickness and durability as a cheap poster you’d put on your wall as a kid. Luckily, it’s only used to build the initial board and remains under the game for the duration. This should ensure the Assembly plan will last for as long as you own the game.
Welcome to the Andes
To set up the game, complete the following steps.
First, unfold the Assembly plan and place it on the table where you plan to play the game. There are two sides to choose from. Neither side is any better or more complex than the other. Next, build the outer frame by connecting the different frame pieces as you would a puzzle piece, placing it on top of the Assembly plan.
Second, place each Terrain tile on the Assembly plan (yes, right on top), matching its orientation and shape. You are essentially building a puzzle here.
Third, place all the Demand flags in the cloth bag and then draw one Demand flag at random for each of the Village spaces found on the frame. There is a cutout where the Demand flag is inserted. The only rule to follow here is that a Demand flag cannot be the same color as the Village in which it’s placed. If you draw a Demand flag that matches the Village color, put it back in the bag and draw another. In addition, no “white” Demand flag pieces can be placed at the start of the game.
Fourth, place the Resources on one side of the game playing area and group them into pools of similar colors. This is referred to as the general supply for both players. Each player will have their own personal supply, as well.
Fifth, have each player select a Llama meeple color of their choice (black or white). Have each player place one of their Llamas on the white “Village’ space. Have each player place one white Resource piece on their Lllama at this time. Give to the player who controls the black Llama one brown Resource to place to their Llama at this time, as well. Place the remaining Llamas to one side of the game playing area.
That’s it for game setup. The player who controls the white Llama goes first.
P’achakuna is played in turns with no set number of turns per game. A player’s turn is summarized here.
Step One: Rotate One (or More) Terrain Tiles
A player may pick up any Terrain tile and rotate it in any direction and to any degree but must place it back to the same position from which it was taken. Only Terrain tiles free of the Rock piece may be rotated.
The player may optionally rotate additional Terrain tiles of their choice, but it will cost them two Resource pieces from their personal supply. If the player does pay to rotate another Terrain tile, the Resource pieces they use are returned to the general supply.
Terrain tiles that are rotated have Rock pieces placed on them, signifying the player’s opponent cannot rotate them on their turn. Likewise, Terrain tiles that contain a Llama cannot be rotated.
After rotating one or more Terrain tiles, the player removes any Rock pieces they did not place this turn to one side of the game playing area. Their opponent will use these on their turn.
Step Two: Move the Llamas
The Terrain tiles represent valleys and mountains that make up this beautiful and rugged terrain. In what I believe to be a unique and pleasing design choice, the “mountain” portion of each of the Terrain tiles is higher than the rest of the Terrain tile. This serves to make the game board very interesting and a reminder to the players. The player with the white Llama can only travel through the valleys, and the player with the black Llama can only travel through the mountains.
The player must move each of their Llamas in play at a minimum of one Terrain tile. The one expectation is if the Llama is located in a Village. If such is the case, the Llama may “rest” in that location without moving. The player may decide the order in which their Llamas move.
Llamas may move to any Terrain tile or Village if the path it would take is uninterrupted. Distance does not play a factor. The player may stop their Llama in any of the spaces they want it to travel, but a Llama must stop if it comes to a Village.
A path is considered interrupted if the Terrain tile adjacent to the Llama’s current position creates a valley or mountain the Llama cannot enter. For example, the white Llama may only travel through valleys. Given the current configuration of the tiles, the Llama may only travel to the tile below its current position.
The Llama may never move on or through a framed piece. However, there is no limit to the number of Llamas that may simultaneously occupy the same Village or Terrain piece.
Step Three: Trade Resources/Buy Llamas
For each Llama the player has in play located in a Village, they may take action to trade Resources or purchase another Llama.
Each Village will want a specific type of Resource, as indicated by its Demand flag. If the player elects to trade Resources with the Village, three outcomes are possible.
- If the Demand flag does not show the same Resource currently on the player’s Llama, the player may return the mismatched Resource from their Llama to the general supply. The player gains nothing other than now having a Llama that can carry another type of Resource.
- If the Demand flag does show the same Resource currently on the player’s Llama, but the color is shown on the lower/bottom section of the Demand flag, the player may take one Resource of the same color from their Llama and place it in their personal supply.
- If the Demand flag does show the same Resource currently on the player’s Llama, and the color is shown on the upper/top section of the Demand flag, the player may take one Resource of the same color from their Llama and place it in their personal supply, plus one more which is taken from the general supply.
For example, the Demand flag on the left shows that the purple Resource is in high demand, which would reward the player with one Resource of the same color from their Llama and place it in their personal supply, plus one more which is taken from the general supply. On the other hand, another village may want the same Resource, but it is in low demand, as shown by the Demand flag on the right.
Regardless of the three outcomes, the Demand flag is removed from the Village and placed in a separate discard pile.
The player may buy a Llama of their color using four Resources of their choice from their personal supply. After the Resource pieces used are sent to the general supply, the Llama magically appears in the Village ready to work.
Step Four: Refill
The player now draws one Demand flag from the cloth bag for each Demand flag previously removed. The rules for adding a Demand flag to each village are the same as when the game was first set up. When the cloth bag is empty, place all the Demand flags in the discard pile back into the bag.
Finally, the player then adds one Resource to each of their Llamas that traded resources this turn or to any newly purchased Llamas. The Resource added matches the Village color the Llama is currently located, taken from the general supply.
This completes the player’s turn. The next player now takes their turn, starting with step one.
Winning the Game and Llama Love
The game continues as summarized above, with each player taking turns and running their poor Llamas all over the place.
The game ends when any player has at least one of each of the seven Resources in their personal supply, excluding the brown Resource piece. Only those Resources in the player’s personal supply are counted. Any still on the backs of the overworked Llamas are ignored.
The first player to do so wins the game!
To learn more about P’achakuna, visit the game’s webpage.
The Child Geeks enjoyed the game, finding it fun to move their Llamas around the board in what one little geek referred to as a “maze.” According to the same Child Geek, “You have to move the map just right so you can move your Llamas around the board. I liked that because it helped me move all my Llamas to help the village people.” Another Child Geek said, “The game is like a puzzle at first, and then you just keep moving the puzzle around until you can get your Llamas to drop off stuff and pick up stuff. I thought the game was fun.” All the Child Geeks quickly learned the game without issue and had a great time. This resulted in the Child Geeks giving P’achakuna two thumbs up.
The Parent Geeks also enjoyed the game and found themselves rather engaged with the subtly complicated task of navigating Llamas through an ever-shifting landscape. According to one Parent Geek, “I really like how we can manipulate the board, both to your benefit and to the detriment of your opponent. I spent some of my resources just to make it more complicated for an opponent, and that felt pretty good. It opened up a different level to the game that I found most pleasing.” Another Parent Geek said, “A fun two-player game. Visually very interesting and very hands-on. It kept me engaged right from the start to the very end. My only complaint is that my Llama couldn’t always keep its gear strapped to its back. Stupid Llama.” When the last of the supposedly stupid Llamas made their way into the village for the night, the Parent Geeks took stock and found that P’achakuna delivered fun.
The Gamer Geeks had mixed feelings about the game. According to one Gamer Geek, “It feels like your standard pickup and delivery-type of experience with the gimmick of rotating tiles. That’s fine, but the game didn’t do anything exciting. I never felt like I was in a race or true competition. In fact, I felt like I was just a trucker on the road waving to other truckers as they drove by. The game isn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, either. Just good, in my opinion.” Another Gamer Geek said, “Two-player games tend to be more player-versus-players. This one wasn’t so much. It was a race, kind of, with the ability to mess with your opponent, kind of, and the continual need to evaluate your strategy, kind of. The whole game left me kind of feeling OK about it and kind of not. I’d play it again, but it wasn’t a game I was super excited about.” The Gamer Geeks all agreed that the game was good enough for what it was but never hit any real high marks. This led to the Gamer Geeks giving P’achakuna a mixed endorsement.
A few product flaws in the game can get annoying but do not let that stop you from playing. For example, my Llamas had a hell of a time holding the goods I wanted them to move (they kept falling out), and the Demand flags didn’t always stay in place. I mention these only because my reviewers did. It didn’t stop them from enjoying the game, but several times noted it.
Another interesting negative point noted by my reviewers was setting up the game. It would be best if you used the Assembly plan, folks. We tried to build the board randomly, but it created a playing map that we spent a lot of time rotating and less time moving on. There is reasonable cause to use the Assembly plan as it makes a balanced working playing area right from the start. Be your Llama breed for valleys or mountains, there are equal opportunity paths for all. The “problem” the Assembly plan solves introduces a new “problem,” and I quote “problem” because I want to add emphasis to you – the reader – that it might not be. When you use the Assembly plans, you fix balance issues right from the start. You also introduce a new meta-game that is essentially building a puzzle. Find the piece that matches the Assembly plan and put it in place. This takes time.
In truth, any puzzle lover will laugh at the idea that a 54-piece puzzle is a chore, but – uff – a lot of grumbling here, folks. Gamers just want to put the game on the table with as little effort as possible and get into the gaming. That makes sense, right? It sure does to me.
But you need to push past it and move on. Setting up the game board takes time but not a lot of effort. It’s also an excellent way for you and your opponent to talk while you set up the playing area. A nice little appetizer, if you will, before the main course and the only cooperative element of the game that genuinely lets players work together. Yes, it can feel tedious, but it’s worth it.
Gameplay-wise, I enjoyed myself. This is not a challenging game to learn quickly, and you can jump right into the valleys and mountains with your intrepid Llama in no time. The most complicated game aspect for me was managing the Llamas that I had at one time all over the region. While this proved to be engaging, it wasn’t all that efficient. There is plenty of room to flex your Llama logistical prowess in this game, and it pays off if you can manage it correctly. I didn’t – not at first – but I still had a great time.
Do try P’achakuna when the opportunity presents itself. It’s a devilishly tricky game to pronounce, but it’s a great game to play with a friend.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.